Former Afghan ‘terp’ joins Marine Corps

It’s rare to come across a new graduate of US Marine Corps recruit training who has already experienced the chaos of war, but for one Marine in particular, this is exactly the case.

CAPTION: Private First Class Aimal Taraki, right, talks to Corporal Elliot Flood-Johnson from the office of Communication Strategies, at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. Story by Corporal Elliot Flood-Johnson. Photo by Lance Corporal Alex Devereux.

Private First Class Aimal Taraki, an Afghan national and former translator who worked closely with United States Marine Corps forces and other NATO allies in Afghanistan, graduated basic training aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego on 7 April 2023.

PFC Taraki said working with the US military to combat insurgent forces such as the Taliban inspired him to pursue his goal of one day becoming a US Marine.

“Growing up, I was always interested in America and the western world, and was always very in tune with American culture,” PFC Taraki said.

“I applied for a translator job working with the troops because they were hiring local Afghan people.

“I worked with Marines and other NATO forces, which is what gave me the idea to move from Afghanistan.”

Aimal Taraki was born in 1994 during the height of a civil war and became familiar with combat from a very young age.

He and his family were forced to flee their native home in Mazar-E-Sharif, to find a more peaceful life in Pakistan, in 1999 or 2000 after the Taliban took over for the first time.

“They taught us everything in English [in Pakistan] – the alphabet, math, biology,” PFC Taraki said.

“The national language is Urdu, but they don’t even start to teach you that until third or fourth grade, which was very odd to me – that you would teach kids English before your own language.”

After spending approximately six years in Pakistan, Taraki and his family were able to move to Kabul, but still experienced the effects of a country embroiled in conflict.

In 2018, after working with NATO forces for two years, Aimal Taraki was able to obtain a visa and join the rest of his family, who had by then moved to America.

When he first arrived in Sacramento, California, he thought about doing many things, but looked back fondly on his time working with the military and wanted to show his appreciation to the US for allowing him to pursue a better life.

“I decided I could do any job and have any career, but first I want to be a Marine,” he said.

“This way I can say thank you to the United States and the Marine Corps for helping me.”

After completing his time at MCRD San Diego and accomplishing a major milestone in his new life in the US, Taraki took a moment to share an important message, sharing a perspective from someone who has experienced both peace and conflict.

“Coexist – that’s what makes the world a better and more peaceful place,” PFC Taraki said.

“If only we accepted each other – disregarding the differences we have, and started loving each other.

“We’re all human beings – we all deserve to be treated the same.”

With each company of newly graduated Marines, there are individuals who come from many walks of life.

It’s an opportunity for people such as Aimal Taraki, who are looking for something larger than themselves – and adds to the Corps’ diverse family.


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Posted by Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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